Thursday, July 27, 2006

Skypecasting with Chris Anderson

Below are some notes and comments regarding a recent Skypecast with Wired editor and author Chris Anderson. Anderson is currently on tour promoting his new book, The Long Tail, which explains an interesting phenomenon in the current economy.

Background: the interview took place Monday July 25, 2006 at 1:30 P.M. Anderson was in L.A. on his book tour. He was interviewed by TypePad General Manager Michael Sippey. There were approximately 50 people listening to the Skypecast, which, in itself, proves that the “long tail” is a very real thing.

What I learned:

1. The “long tail” is described by Anderson as “life after the blockbuster.” Until recently, most people looked at the "left side of the graph," the best sellers and the big hits. Anderson compiled a lot of information, studied the data and looked at how big the demand was for niche items in comparison.

2. There is great demand for these niche items, evidenced by sales on iTunes, Netflix, Rhapsody, etc. These companies can aggregate all the smaller items and offer the consumer infinite shelf space. Technology makes it possible to carry everything at very little or no cost. Blogs are a perfect example of providing content or information to small interest groups.

3. The Long Tail does not rule out blockbusters and big selling items. As an example, Anderson shows you can operate in both paradigms. He is the editor of a major magazine, Wired (with broad appeal) and runs a separate blog where he writes and offers research on "the long tail" (narrow appeal).

4. How can niches compete with the big companies? Anderson explains that you need to offer something the Wal Marts don’t have. Example -- have an online bookstore that only deals in science fiction.

Interview

Podcast

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Alternative to Craigslist

I started looking for an alternative to Craigslist last week and found Google Base. I'm interested to know from anyone who stumbles on this post if they've had any luck with this.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Chris Anderson Skypecast - July 24, 2006

If you have questions about the "long tail" phenomenon (mentioned in a previous posting) you'll want to catch this upcoming Skypecast interview with Wired editor Chris Anderson. For more information, you can go to the Skypecast blog.

Master of Language: George Carlin

Here's someone who has really taken the time to undertand the complexities of modern language. As you'll see in this video, (courtesy of YouTube) George Carlin also has an amazing memory.

Free Press Releases?

Through some random Internet searching the other day, I came across a site which offers a way to get press releases out to all the major search engines. I have not used the service so I can't tell you how effective it is, but it might be worth a look. As they say:

"We want to help newsmakers - artists, authors, business professionals, designers, developers, entrepreneurs, filmmakers, musicians, retailers, and all other types of newsmakers - get free media exposure."

Friday, July 07, 2006

Do it Yourself Pay-Per-View

I've got a bit of breaking news to share. Two guys I've been working with from FaceBridge Research are on to something that could really explode. In the interest of full disclosure, I hope it does. But, this is something really practical and.... cool. Let's say you're a tutor, or other professional, or a band, or lawyer or whatever. You have a message or song you want to get out to the public. You know your service or message / song is valuable. Now, thanks to Facebridge, you can broad or narrow-cast this direcly from you computer. When you're done, they (the audience of 1 to many) gets a bill and you get paid. Yes, it's that simple!

My small contribution was a report on the viability of this invention in the educational market. The full report is now available over at FaceBridge.

For the full presentation on this product and the potential markets, go here.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Grow your brain in just 48 hours

Not satisfied with the current capacity of your brain? Try growing it.

"In 1967, brain pioneer Marian Diamond, a University of California at Berkeley neuroanatomist, discovered an amazing malleability to the brain (Diamond 1967). Her studies - and subsequent research by dozens of colleagues - have changed the way we think about our brains. The brain can literally grow new connections with environmental stimulation. Diamond says, 'When we enriched the environment, we got brains with a thicker cortex, more dendritic branching, more growth spines and larger cell bodies' (Healy 1990, p. 47). This means the brain cells communicate better with one another. There are more support cells, too. This can happen within 48 hours after the stimulation."

Source: Teaching With the Brain in Mind by Eric Jensen.


Image credit: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/brain/

Monday, June 12, 2006

Studies Suggest Starting Career Search Earlier

The following is contributed by guest writer - Courtney Webb, M.A.

The relatively new field of career exploration for youth is on the verge of taking off. Children as young as 9 years of age have surprising amounts of information on "what they want to do." The trick is really in tapping into the child's own inner visions, creating a global career goal and thereafter, supplying the young 'client' with educational information and learning opportunities that will allow them to refine their initial goals. There is no reason a student cannot have fairly well defined career goals by the time they are in high school. Also, research indicates that students who are not 'plugged in' with some general goal in mind by the time they are 13 years old; are in much greater risk of getting involved with drugs, alcohol and of becoming school dropouts. So, let the floundering stop, and let the clarity begin with assessments and advisement for your son or daughter.

If you are interested in the E-WOW, Holland Code Assessment, learning more about natural preferences in the world of work, or finding educational programs to fit you or your child's personality type, contact Courtney Webb directly.

Phone: 916-955-2466

E-mail: courtne@earthlink.net


Saturday, June 03, 2006

King of the who?

As you’re going through your day, remember that “supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.” Below is a lesson in government from the writers of Monty Python, excerpted from The Holy Grail. As much as I’d like to be the first to use this bit as a way to introduce students to government, the idea has already been used. I credit Todd Millick with reminding me of the sketch. One of his professors at UC Davis actually showed students the movie clip as an introduction to his government class. Anarcho-syndacalism, by the way, is a real term and is explained here.

Source: Monty Python's Completely Useless Website

ARTHUR: Old woman!


DENNIS: Man!


ARTHUR: Man. Sorry. What knight live in that castle over there?


DENNIS: I'm thirty-seven.

ARTHUR: I-- what?

DENNIS: I'm thirty-seven. I'm not old.


ARTHUR: Well, I can't just call you 'Man'.


DENNIS: Well, you could say 'Dennis'.


ARTHUR: Well, I didn't know you were called 'Dennis'.


DENNIS: Well, you didn't bother to find out, did you?


ARTHUR: I did say 'sorry' about the 'old woman', but from the behind you looked—


DENNIS: What I object to is that you automatically treat me like an inferior!

ARTHUR: Well, I am king!


DENNIS: Oh king, eh, very nice. And how d'you get that, eh? By exploiting the workers! By 'anging on to outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the economic and social differences in our society. If there's ever going to be any progress with the—

WOMAN: Dennis, there's some lovely filth down here. Oh! How d'you do?


ARTHUR: How do you do, good lady. I am Arthur, King of the Britons. Who's castle is that?


WOMAN: King of the who?


ARTHUR: The Britons.


WOMAN: Who are the Britons?


ARTHUR: Well, we all are. We are all Britons, and I am your king.


WOMAN: I didn't know we had a king. I thought we were an autonomous collective.


DENNIS: You're fooling yourself. We're living in a dictatorship. A self-perpetuating autocracy in which the working classes—


WOMAN: Oh, there you go, bringing class into it again.

DENNIS: That's what it's all about. If only people would hear of--


ARTHUR: Please, please good people. I am in haste. Who lives in that castle?


WOMAN: No one live there.

ARTHUR: Then who is your lord?


WOMAN: We don't have a lord.


ARTHUR: What?


DENNIS: I told you. We're an anarcho-syndicalist commune. We take it in turns to act as a sort of executive officer for the week.


ARTHUR: Yes.


DENNIS: But all the decision of that officer have to be ratified at a special bi-weekly meeting—


ARTHUR: Yes, I see.


DENNIS: By a simple majority in the case of purely internal affairs,--

ARTHUR: Be quiet!


DENNIS: But by a two-thirds majority in the case of more major—


ARTHUR: Be quiet! I order you to be quiet!


WOMAN: Order, eh? Who does he think he is? Heh.

ARTHUR: I am your king!


WOMAN: Well, I didn't vote for you.


ARTHUR: You don't vote for kings.


WOMAN: Well, how did you become king then?


ARTHUR: The Lady of the Lake,... [angels sing]...her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite, held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water signifying by Divine Providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. [singing stops]That is why I am your king!


DENNIS: Listen, strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.


ARTHUR: Be quiet!


DENNIS: Well, but you can't expect to wield supreme executive power just 'cause some watery tart threw a sword at you!


ARTHUR: Shut up!


DENNIS: I mean, if I went 'round saying I was an emperor just because some moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me, they'd put me away!


ARTHUR: Shut up, will you. Shut up!


DENNIS: Ah, now we see the violence inherent in the system.


ARTHUR: Shut up!


DENNIS: Oh! Come and see the violence inherent in the system! Help, help!I'm being repressed!


ARTHUR: Bloody peasant!


DENNIS: Oh, what a give-away. Did you hear that? Did you hear that, eh? That's what I'm on about. Did you see him repressing me? You saw it, didn't you?

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Millions of Niches


Read about the "Theory of the Long Tail" and the new marketplace here.

"The Long Tail article (and the forthcoming book) is about the big-picture consequence of this: how our economy and culture is shifting from mass markets to million of niches. It chronicles the effect of the technologies that have made it easier for consumers to find and buy niche products, thanks to the "infinite shelf-space effect"--the new distribution mechanisms, from digital downloading to peer-to-peer markets, that break through the bottlenecks of broadcast and traditional bricks and mortar retail."

If you go to Chris Anderson's blog (link above) there is an interesting article on the "new" Al Gore.

Image credit: The Long Tail (blog)

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Dr. Katz is alive and well

I don’t know if this form of therapy is practiced anywhere but it’s not a bad idea. The client uses his session as a way to try out new material – humor. In the case of Dr. Katz, he just sat there, mostly with a blank look on his face, giving just enough feedback to keep the comic going. If you like the dry kind of humor, this is great television. In this clip, on YouTube, Dr. Katz's son has a talk with him.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Simplicity = unlearning and synthesis.

In the recent “Changethis,” (changethis.com) Dan Ward does some writing about the problems of complexity and over-thinking.

Click on the title above to go to the article.

Here are some highlights and notes:

1. There is a “complexity on the other side of understanding.”

In other words, people can often go too far in trying to develop an idea. Solution: peel back the layers to get to what is good and what works.
2. Complexity and goodness are not always directly proportional.

“Here we find the learned academician who everyone assumes is brilliant because no one can understand a word he says. In fact, his academics may simply be overcomplicated and have very limited goodness.”

3. To remedy the problem, Ward recommends “unlearning and synthesis.”


“To begin moving in this direction, we must learn a few new skills and forget some old ones. In place of learning and genesis, which served us well on the trip between Simplisticness and Complexity, we must now master a skillset that includes things like unlearning and synthesis.”

4. Reduce the design to basic components.


“The idea is to prune and pare down the design, reducing it to the essential components."

“For a more academically rigorous approach, we can look to Genrich Altshuller’s Theory of Inventive Problem Solving, which identified something called the law of ideality. This law states that as systems mature, they tend to become more reliable, simpler, and more effective—more ideal. This law goes onto explain that the amount of complexity in a system is a measure of how far away it is from its ideal state. Interestingly, Altshuller postulates that upon reaching perfect ideality, the mechanism itself no longer exists. Only the function remains; the various components have been simplified to zero.”

5. Experiencing complexity is an important step.

“One cannot usually jump directly from simplistic to simple, skipping complexity entirely. The initial increase in complexity is as crucial to maximizing goodness as the later decrease in complexity.”

“We have now replaced what Albert Schweitzer called ‘naive simplicity’ with a ‘profound simplicity.’ This is done by pursuing synthesis rather than genesis and goodness rather than complexity.”

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Frustration of Being a Creative Generalist

If you're looking for a job, whether online or in a newspaper, one thing you won't see advertised is a position for a "creative generalist." After reading this piece (below) by Dr. Terry Rock, I know now that I'm not the only one who recognizes this fact. With the writings of Daniel Pink, Thomas Friedman and others, I hope this changes.

"The whole thing is worth reading, but one thing I face, and I know others face, is how to translate generalism into organizational reality. For example… finding a job as a generalist is difficult because there really isn’t “a place on most org charts and [generalists] are frequently told by HR that they’re smart but ‘we wouldn’t know where to put you.’” The flipside is running an organization that “gets” the need for generalists, but faces constant pressure to specialize."

Dr. Rock is referring to an essay written by Steve Hardy regarding creative generalism. I wrote about that piece here. You can also find the original essay at Steve Hardy's blog.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Using Chaos Theory in Organizations

Finding a link between chaos, complexity and education was the central theme of my thesis research. The research has implications in any large or small organization.

Excerpted from a piece I worked on in 2004 called Bridging the Gap: A Complex-Adaptive Solution to the Great Political Divide

…Chaos theory tells us that everything in the universe has an emerging nature, from the evolution of organisms, to volcanic eruptions, to weather patterns, to the growth of civilizations. Secondly, the greatest creativity, evolvability and progress appear to take place at the “edge of chaos.” In chaos theory, random forces can converge to form a higher order. Research in the field has gone from the study of planets to the study of the weather to microorganisms, to the growth of companies to organizational and group behavior. What one learns from a study of complexity is that random forces converge to form a higher order behavior. Keep your eye on the larger picture as we delve into the details.

Steven Johnson, in a book called Emergence: the Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities and Software (2001) wrote about studies of slime mold in the 1960’s by Mitch Resnick. The studies revealed that microorganisms displayed collective intelligence. Instead of one large organism moving across a floor in search of food, it was revealed that the “slime” was actually hundreds of single celled organisms coming together for a larger purpose.

In fact, evidence of self-organization is everywhere. Prigognine and Stengers in their much-cited compendium Order out of Chaos (1984) said that the biosphere as a whole and all its components existed in a state far from equilibrium. Based on this, they said life, as part of the natural order, was the “supreme expression” of a self-organizing process. Simplified, this means that the air, land and sea are all part of a complex system that tends towards equilibrium. It does so because it is adaptive. If it doesn’t – if it were rigid – it would cease to exist, and we would cease to exist.

Another example of a highly productive emergent process took place at the RAND Corporation in the 1950s. As Nasser told the story in A Beautiful Mind (1998), people drifted into each other’s offices, or would just chat in the corridors. The grids and courtyards were set up “to maximize chance meetings.” The interchanges would lead to new research and colleagues exchanging challenging problems with one another. In this informal way, RAND memoranda would often start out simply as a handwritten paper being handed over to a math department secretary (Nasar).

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Is ugly better?

According to this blog, a site in Canada called Plentyoffish.com is making 10,000 a day in Google Adsense revenue through "anti-marketing." Instead of clever designs, try something sticky... or even ugly.

Will Andy Kaufman Please Return

I had heard a story about Andy Kaufman, on stage, eating a bucket of potatoes and then taking a nap inside of a sleeping bag. His sporadic, improvised movements inside the sleeping bag became the entertainment for the audience. I checked it out and there seems to be some corroboration.

"Often, it was more elaborate -- Kaufman once ate a bucket of potatoes and then took a 25-minute nap (onstage) before coming to life as the King."

I also found a blog written from the view point of Andy Kaufman. Now, I know it's a lot to ask, but we desperately need a new wave of comedy to match Monty Python, the original cast of SNL and Andy Kaufman. If this is already happening somewhere, will someone kindly let me know.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

What is the Higher Ed Blog Con?

Skypecast on May 12 with the producers of the Higher Ed Blog Con. 10:00 AM (is that Eastern?)

"How can colleges and universities capitalize on new communication and networking tools to foster meaningful dialogue with constituents? In this inaugural Skypecast, we'll open the floor for ideas about how to use Skypecast to create a forum where we can discuss conversation strategies in Higher Education marketing and communications. This initial Skypecast will be hosted by producers of HigherEd BlogCon 2007."

For more information, go to the Higher Ed Blog Con site.

This information came from the Skype Blog.

Skypecast with Craig from Craigslist

"In the weeks leading up to the Innovative Marketing Conference - June 8-9 in NYC - we will be hosting a series of provocative Skypecasts in which we will chat with conference participants as well as allow our audience to help shape the conversation at the physical event. In this Skypecast we'll sit down with Craig Newmark, the founder of craigslist, for a wide-ranging discussion of the threats and opportunities related to consumer generated content."

For more information, go to skype.corante.com.


What is a Skypecast?

"Skypecasts enable people to discuss shared interests — anything from classic cars and cooking, to home design and computer support. Skypecasts are moderated by the ‘host’ who is able to mute, eject or pass the virtual microphone to participants when they wish to speak. Hosting or participating in a Skypecast is completely free."

You can read more about this here.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

As a matter of fact, it IS a right brain world

Thomas Friedman, being interviewed in the May, 2006 Business Strategies Magazine, said:

"Lastly, I would say—there's a book called A Whole New Mind by Dan Pink and he argues you've got your left brain and you've got your right brain. Your left brain is all the kind of repetitive mass production functions, rather boring. Your right brain is all the synthesizing, empathetic storytelling, creative side of your mind, and that it's basically a right brain world. Everything, as Dan says, on the left side of your brain is either going to be done by a computer, faster or by an Indian, cheaper. So how we nurture those creative right brain skills in our students is really important."


Sunday, May 07, 2006

Quote of the day

It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer.

~ Albert Einstein

Source

Friday, May 05, 2006

Important Differences Between Chaos and Complexity

In an upcoming blog entry, I'll be giving you some interesting information about complexity and the need to simplify. Before doing that, though, it's important for you to understand what complexity is and why it is different from chaos. This should help... and no, there will not be a quiz at the end of the hour, but you'll still need to pay attention.

"Chaos theorists typically look for patterns of order in chaotic systems – such as the eddies that appear and disappear in turbulent water – and try to derive these patterns from a set of generative mathematical rules. Complexity theory, in contrast, explores the activity of complex systems at the edge of chaos, such as living organisms. Complex systems exist on the cusp of too much and too little order; they are systems that act as wholes but are nevertheless far from equilibrium. In other words, complex systems are capable of undergoing rapid and radical transformations in order to adjust to changes in their environment. Complexity theorists are primarily interested in the ways in which such systems are self-organizing, or autopoietic, developing new structures without any external cause or motive."

From the review by Stephen Schryer of Mark C. Taylor's, The Moment of Complexity: Emerging Network Culture Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001. $32.00, 340pp.

Courage and Creativity

“We are called upon to do something new, to confront a no man’s land, to push into a forest where there are no well-worn paths and from which no one has returned to guide us. This is what the existentialists call the anxiety of nothingness. To live into the future means to leap into the unknown, and this requires a degree of courage for which there is no immediate precedent and which few people realize.”

__ Rollo May, The Courage to Create

Note: you can add to this the courage it takes to ask for funding for projects that explore this "no man's land." According to Jeff Hawkins, it's very hard to get funding for the type of projects in science that have previously not been funded (if that makes any sense). The irony here is that breakthroughs usually happen in this "unknown" area.

You can listen to Hawkins' podcast over at iTunes.

Hawkins is the founder of Palm Computing and director of the Redwood Neuroscience Institute.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

UC Berkeley Courses on iTunes


If you feel you've missed out on a UC Berkeley education, don't worry. Now, you can go to iTunes and download classes. This is great, but I wonder how the people paying tuition feel. Another thought: I wonder if high school teachers could supplement homework assignments - perhaps for gifted or AP students - by having them download and take notes on some of these classes.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Things to remember about your memory

The following points outline how mood and context can affect memory:

1. Emotions drive attention, create meaning, and have their own memory pathways (LeDoux, 1994).

2. While feelings travel a circuitous, slower route throughout the body, the emotions always take the brain’s “superhighways” (Jensen, 1998).

3. Emotions drive creativity, and this is a function of the amygdala. “Removing the amygdala, however, is devastating. That destroys the capacities for creative play, imagination, key decision making, and the nuances of emotions that drive the arts, humor, imagination, love, music and altruism” (Jensen, 1998).

4. “When you experience a gut feeling, it’s because the same peptides that are released in your brain are also lining your gastrointestinal tract.” Miles Herkenham of the National Institute of Mental Health says that 98 percent of all communication within the body may be through these peptide messengers (in Pert 1997, p. 139) “This view implies a far greater role for the understanding and integration of emotions in learning” (Jensen).

5. We remember that which is most emotional. This happens because all emotional events receive preferential processing (Christianson, 1992).

6. Emotions give us a more activated and chemically stimulated brain, which helps us recall things better. The more intense the amygdala arousal, the stronger the imprint (Cahill, Prins, Weber, and McGaugh 1994) from Goleman (1995). (see information on the amygdala above)

7. Conclusion: What is the effect of all of this on memory? We remember things that are emotional and meaningful and tend to forget those things that have no attachment to emotion or meaning. Even if dry material is presented in the context of something exciting such as field trip, it is more likely that the material will be remembered.

8. Context-dependent memory means that memory gets associated to the text in which they are studied. A person’s ability to recall an item depends on the person’s ability to reproduce the list context. There is evidence that subjects have difficulty recalling items when the context changes between study and test (Anderson).

9. “Subjects can show better memory when their mental states at study and at test match” (Anderson).

10. Mood congruency refers to the fact that people find it easier to remember happy memories when happy and sad memories when sad (Anderson).

11. How can one make use of this information? If you are a student trying to remember something for a test, keep the following in mind:

  • Attach the content of the material to something personally meaningful or emotional.
  • Paraphrase material to create personal meaning of content.
  • Re-create an internal mood at test time similar to the one you had at study time.

The Space Between

Right Brain World now offers a research, writing and cyber-marketing service to innovators, inventors, educators and other creative people. Have a look.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

We interrupt this blog...

There has been a lack of "bloggage" on the site lately...but there is a reason. I'm in the middle of developing a site which will outline a new service in E-learning. Stay tuned for details.

Friday, April 21, 2006

More evidence in support of educational games

Games are good tools for getting students to use all their senses, particularly visual, auditory and kinesthetic, which makes this a good method for different types of learners. Recent evidence shows the values of bringing emotion into the learning environment. Games create a positive association with learning and “allow for the repetition and deeper processing that strengthens neural pathways” (Millis, 2003).

Excerpted from: The Global Challenge Curriculum: The Application of Chaos Theory in the Classroom, Lee Chazen, EDTE 227, Dr. Sherrie Carinci

Check out Global Challenge.


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Selling the Need for Conceptual Thinkers

Not too long ago, I heard Daniel Pink in an interview on NPR. I was inspired because I thought someone was finally speaking on a topic that was hardly being addressed anywhere else. He was speaking about the need for more conceptual thinkers, and suggested that businesses would soon turn to people with M.F.A.'s as oppossed to M.B.A.'s. In his book, A Whole New Mind, he said:

"But the keys to the kingdom are changing hands. The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind - creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers, and meaning makers. These people - artists, inventors, designers, storytellers, caregivers, consolers, big picture thinkers - will now reap society's richest rewards and share its greatest joys."

I would just add one thing to this: If this is to become true, someone must devise a strategy to sell the idea. For people to believe in the power of conceptual, right-brain thinkers, someone will have to first convince school administrators, politicians and CEO's. Perhaps we should step back for a second and begin thinking of ways to sell the concept. Yes, it's a good idea, but how do we convince others of this?

Friday, April 14, 2006

What's Ahead in E-Learning

Will we get to the point where a physical public school is an outdated idea from a bygone era? Will it soon be possible to have a “cyber-learning consultant,” whose purpose is to arrange a completely electronic curriculum for students? Will there come a time when students, for whatever reason, leave the public school entirely in exchange for a digitally-based education, designed specifically for them?

Under a program like the one described above, the student’s schedule would be filled with weekly podcasts, online tests and various online readings. For students who progress well and are in need of building interpersonal skills, there is the option of an educational online game with other students across the globe. What if the student experiences trouble in his or her classes and no one is around? No problem. Visit a cyber-tutor using instant messaging AV technology.

By creating a program to fit the needs of the students, the education becomes catered or more suited to the type of intelligence the student exhibits. Problems with ADHD are no longer significant in this environment. The cyber learning consultant comes in and constructs the type of program to fit the student who is easily distracted. A typical classroom with 30 other students and dozens of triggers and distractions may not be the place for this type of learner. Institutions are slow to react to the needs of special learners, but an E-environment adapts quickly.

Education is the second largest industry in the United States,* and many in this industry are familiar with E-learning. The world of online classes or cyber-based instruction and educational software is nothing new, but this three part essay takes us further down the path in order to ask some important questions: “where is this phenomenon taking us? Will it be good for students and teachers, and will it be good for business and the economy?

*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Career Guide to Industries, 2006-07 Edition, Educational Services, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/cg/cgs034.htm (visited March 22, 2006). Last Modified Date: December 20, 2005

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Einstein, the defiant student

The following information was excerpted from Creating Minds by Howard Gardner.

Only a few months from passing away, Albert Einstein credited a certain school for his success. Einstein attended a “progressive Canton school” in early adolescence. They offered a humanistic approach to subjects and emphasized the importance of visual understanding in the mastery of concepts.

Einstein recalled that he liked the teachers there because the teachers "based themselves on no external authority." He resented rote memorization and regimented learning, favoring instead open ended, problem solving type learning. “He revealed his contempt by performing poorly and acting defiantly in class.”

The point this makes is that a gap exists in many schools between the types of learners and thinkers that some students are, and the kind of education they are receiving.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Navigating the Cyber-Learning Environment

New movements in consumer behavior sometimes sneak up on us. Consumers want to do things their way, and if they can find an easier, cheaper way to get what they want - They'll go after it. Take MP3s for example. There was nothing wrong with CD's in terms of ease of use and sound quality. But consumers, at times, wanted to download one or two tracks and not the whole album. They wanted to mix their own CDs and the freedom to instantaneously download and then play music. It took a while, but the music industry caught up to them. Proving this phenomenon was real, Apple's iTunes music store has already passed the billionth download of a song and the system they are primarily played on, iPods, have completely restored Apple to being a hugely profitable company.

Technology and the bottom-up revolution


MP3 players are not the only technology to make a bottom-up revolution possible. People can choose where they get their news and information or write their own on easy-to-use blogs. Companies like Technorati make it possible to syndicate a blog, or pick up news phenomena even if it is not being handled by one of the major news organizations.

Effect on Education

Will technology bring this type of bottom-up consumerism to education? Leaders in education have been quick to follow technological innovations. If teachers aren't driving it, then technically literate and game savvy students will. Adopting new technologies is unavoidable, but is also complex. Imagine being a teacher or administrator and trying to come up with plans that take into consideration podcasting, blogging, blog-portfolios, video-casts or even instant messaging. All the indicators show growth in these areas, which is why it is imperative to begin discussing creative and effective combinations. Thomas Friedman and Daniel Pink have been making the argument for more conceptual thinkers and generalists to help guide the way. In fact, in a recent article Friedman says that India and China will need more of these types of thinkers if their engineers, software developers and other technically trained people are to succeed.

Growth in Private Instruction

Growth in the tutoring markets also points to, what I think will be the next great combination, that of private instruction and instant messaging, AV technology. Imagine a system that will allow for expert opinion, coaching, assistance and teaching in real time, from anyone to anywhere. Given enough choices in this market, students and adults will be able to locate instruction and help from people who more closely match their needs and learning styles, creating an adaptable, catered learning environment. Watch for news from a company called Facebridge Research. They are developing a system which will help to monetize cyber-tutoring. The real creativity in all of this will come in the potential applications and combinations of this technology.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Craigslist on Google Video


Some random thoughts on Google Video: 1.) will it be a substitute for Blockbuster, netflix, DVDs, etc.? 2.) How does it compare to iTunes video downloads? 3.) Will there be anything of educational value there, and if so, will they offer a teacher discount? If I find out anything, I'll report back.

In the meantime, there's a video called
"24 Hours on Craigslist," which looks interesting. According to the Mercury News, Craigslist had 8.7 million visitors in September of 2005. The same article, excerpted below, compares Craigslist to a new service by - of course - Google.

"EBay and craigslist are the dominant online marketplaces for now. But there are signs that Google may try to shake up the status quo. The Mountain View company recently launched Google Base, an online database that accepts a variety of content from individuals, including classified listings. And Google has also filed a patent application for a service called Google Automat, aimed at making the posting of classified-type ads fast and easy. As usual, however, the company has been vague about its long-range plans."

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Power of Randomness

"It seems that creativity will flourish when we increase our chances for seemingly random events to occur. The best way to work this randomness into our thought patterns is to develop the habit of being exposed to new ideas, people and concepts on a regular basis. If we take the time to plan for this randomness by limiting our distractions, we can increase our ability to solve problems."


The quote is from Mark Sincevich, writing in his column called Creative Corner, which appeared in the latest Small Business Opportunity Magazine.

The blogosphere and Internet as a whole, certainly, are great ways of increasing the power of randomness.

About the photo: it comes from a site called VisualComplexity.com .

"VisualComplexity.com intends to be a unified resource space for anyone interested in the visualization of complex networks. The project's main goal is to leverage a critical understanding of different visualization methods, across a series of disciplines, as diverse as Biology, Social Networks or the World Wide Web. I truly hope this space can inspire, motivate and enlighten any person doing research on this field."


"The intent of WebTraffic is to develop prototype 3D visualizations of online behaviour - user paths across cyberspace. The project is lead by Antoine Visonneau, with colleagues in the Center for Design Informatics, Harvard Design School. Their latest designs used VRML to visualize traffic within a website, with the vertical gray bars being individual pages and the red lines links between them."

Note: Wouldn't it be interesting if one of these visualizations of online behavior turned out to look like dendrites in the brain?

Friday, March 31, 2006

The Chuck Norris Phenomenon


In between annoying TV commercials for a place called Rich’s Tire Barn, I began wondering how this whole thing with Chuck Norris got started. Chuck, if you read this, I'm not implying that you're annoying. Seriously, you have to believe me. By now, Chuck Norris facts are as widely circulated as gossip about Paris Hilton. Then, to my good fortune, someone pointed out to me that Wikipedia tracks such Internet phenomena. But, I still had questions. You see, sometimes I get pretty deep into philosophical and scientific discussions. I wondered what Chuck Norris would say if he were to read some of my blog posts.



“Proponents of higher-order theories of consciousness argue that consciousness is explained by the relation between two levels of mental states in which a higher-order mental state takes another mental state. If you mention this to Chuck Norris, expect an explosive roundhous
e kick to the face for spouting too much fancy-talk.”
I guess that answers my question.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Connecting people who love to teach with people who love to learn

MindSync was created by Jason Robinson as a service to both teachers and students. Students can find out about classes and workshops or find someone to help them with their studies. Teachers and tutors can post information about their services.

MindSync just put together this new flyer, giving you an idea of what you'll find at the site.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Gaming across disciplines

Also in the current Wired, author Steven Johnson explores the idea of virtual worlds colliding.

"One way or another, consolidation is all but inevitable. A single, pervasive environment will emerge, uniting the separate powers of today's virtual societies. And then we really will have built the Matrix."

Imagine an educational world that follows this metaphor ... allowing students and teachers to create connections where they see them... an adaptive system - bridging disciplines, filling gaps, forming new concepts, etc.

Picture credit

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Video games and how students learn

In the current Wired Magazine, Will Wright has some interesting observations about video games and non-linear thinking. I've been putting the idea out there for years now, for the need for an online, interactive educational game. If you go to this site (not fully functional), you'll see the type of game I'd like to get out to the public. I'm hoping that someone in cyberspace can connect me to someone who can make this a reality. The game would have the additional benefit of teaching students about diplomacy and international relations.

"In an era of structured education and standardized testing, this generational difference might not yet be evident. But the gamers' mindset - the fact that they are learning in a totally new way - means they'll treat the world as a place for creation, not consumption. This is the true impact video games will have on our culture."
...

"Games cultivate - and exploit - possibility space better than any other medium. In linear storytelling, we can only imagine the possiblitiy space that surrounds the narrative: What if Luke had joined the Dark Side? What if Neo isn't the One? In interactive media, we can explore it."

Friday, March 24, 2006

The ADHD - Creativity Connection

In an earlier blog entry, I posted some information regarding a connection between mental illness and creativity. Now, it's time for some possible reasons for that connection. In this essay, author Justin Genovese discusses some of the reasons why those with ADHD might be more creative. What concerns me is that there is no recognition of this unique style of thinking on standardized exams. What I'll be looking for next is a study on whether or not students with ADHD do well on these tests. Is it possible for conceptual and creative thinkers to do well on tests which require such focus and linear thinking ability? What might a test look like if it were written by someone with ADHD? One more thing to think about - what if, rather than answering a series of questions, students (in a hypothetical class) were asked to compose their own questions at the end of a unit of study?

Citing a study by Bonnie Cramond
(The Coincidence of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Creativity, The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented, 1995), Genovese writes,

In a 1992 study, a group of ADHD children and a group of normal children with similar backgrounds and IQs were compared. The ADHD group was found to have a higher creativity and more use of imagery in problem solving, as well as more spontaneous thoughts during a problem-solving exercise. One researcher hypothesized in 1980 that "Intelligent individuals who are bombarded by ideas seek to make sense of them by organizing them into new perceptual relationships. Thus the creative, original idea is born" (Cramond).

One creative solution to ADHD behavior, comes from Dr. Alejandro Terrazas at MediaBalance. He has invented a wireless device which rewards students/ clients with points for positive behavior. These points can then be used for television time (pay per view).



Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Thursday, March 16, 2006

iTunes offers lectures from major universities: with so many educational choices, who will help us decipher good from not-so-good?

For those of you who don’t know, iTunes now has lectures available from Stanford and MIT. How popular are these downloads? IP & Democracy reports that:

Through the end of the Fall semester in December, Stanford’s content was getting 15,000 tracks a week accessed at iTunes. The university plans to expand the coverage to include sports, with Stanford’s athletic matches slated to be available in video podcast form at iTunes.
Thought of the day: With so many forms of education available to all humans of all ages, i.e. public school, private school, charter school, tutoring, e-learning, cyber-learning, podcasting, I think (and remember, you heard it here first) a new type of service will become necessary – that of an education broker / consultant. The job of this person will be to assess students (of any age) and put them in touch with the type of learning program that most fits their needs.

For example, “alright, I’ve looked over your portfolio, spoken to your teachers, examined your test scores, and here is what I recommend: one year of home-schooling, supplemented by weekly podcasts and participation in this online educational game.”

Who coordinates all these activities? The educational consultant, paid on a monthly retainer.

Related links:
  • ITunes University
  • A wireless device to help those w/ ADHD. This device uses a token economy system to reward users with points for positive behaviors. Points can be converted to pay-per-view time. One idea might be to allow users to “cash in” points for downloads of music, podcasts and videos at the iTunes music store.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The intersection of video games and education

I'm finding more evidence lately to support the concept of using video games in education. Two years ago, approximately, at a video game conference in San Jose, I talked to vendors about the idea. At that time, I found it hard to generate interest, but things could begin to change. I had been interested in the idea of an Everquest, or Final Fantasy- like game filled with all types of educational content. It would be an endless learning environment, where lines between subject areas could be crossed and students would be allowed to be as creative as necessary to achieve game objectives. Through clever programming, standardized test content could be embedded in such games. This article shows both the positive and negative aspects of this type of learning.
"Experts in pedagogy and game design began the conference by discussing specific attributes of video games that lend themselves to learning applications and went on to examine areas of knowledge and skill development to which game features could be applied."

"The decision environments provided in gaming are great training for all sorts of high-performance teams," said Jan Cannon-Bowers, an associate professor at the University of Central Florida and formerly senior scientist for training systems for the U.S. Navy. "Though gaming provides a good medium for instruction, good instruction must transcend the game."

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Can video games be used in the treatment of ADHD?

The link above will take you to an interesting overview of how video games might be helpful to people with ADHD.
"Video game play is a form of neuro-feedback, Owens says, which teaches patients to self-regulate brain-wave patterns to improve learning."
Henry Owens is a Melbourne, Florida clinical psychologist who has a patented video game, using NASA technology. I would be interested to read a write-up about this in a scientific journal, where they explore exactly how it works - but, this is a good starting point.


Credit to Jason Robinson for the link to Slashdot. "Zonk" posted this piece on slashdot.

You can read more about the company Smart Brain Games here.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Understanding “Lost"

I recently got hooked on the ABC series “Lost,” but this is one addiction I think I’m going to stick with. In fact, I actually think I’m supposed to be watching it. If you have read this blog before, you know that there’s a lot of writing about emergence, chaos theory, complexity, etc. Well, Lost seems to tap into all that. I’ve been looking for some places in the blogosphere that touch on these subjects and can recommend a few sites:


The numbers
Lostpedia
Egoplex

Any other ideas?

The themes that I like are: 1.) the science-based Jack versus the more faith-based John. I know there have to be others out there, who believe as I do that the two really need each other – the two people and the two theories. Think of all the parallels to the state of politics in the U.S. Is no one broad enough in their thinking to bridge the gap? Maybe Lost will show the way. 2.) Order out of chaos: what a great opportunity this show has to show how the most unlikely of people can come together to achieve a greater purpose. You should read about Mitch Resnick’s slime mold experiments in Stephen Johnson’s book Emergence (links available on this site). Instead of “what do I want,” the question, as Locke puts it, is “what does the Island want?”

Making sense out of chaos is a great theme – the struggle is what makes it interesting. Putting all those unique brains and characters together, they might be able to figure out the mystery of the random numbers. It’s going to take a larger theme like this to get the folks on the island to work together… but does that make for good ratings? We’ll have to see.

There are so many ways to go with this. I’ll put a few out there. First, are there teachers out there who are using this show as a metaphor? I can see government teachers using this as a way to show the need and purpose of government, math teachers using this in a number theory lesson, world history teachers to explain the development of civilization and on it goes…

And, for the love of God, is anyone on the island going to make some coffee?!

…or did I miss that episode.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Chaos Theory, Self Organization and the Role of Government



Painting by Rudi Nadler of Tucson, Arizona

A series of random links and clicking spasms lead me to Dave Pollard's site... one of the more thought provoking blogs out there. I was inspired to find out that there are people who believe we can model social/ political activity after things we find in nature. In one of his latest posts, he uses the cell as an example of a good organizational unit. Taking things past the metaphor, he began showing how we can start taking the steps to bring this emergent (anti-hierarchical) style of action into reality.

I have yet to post something I've been thinking about on this very topic...that large institutions, which are slow to react, may be hindering creativity and progress. But, that's something I'll get to later. For now, I thought I would add to the discussion by going back to something I wrote before the 2004 election. This excerpt gets into the idea of using chaos and complexity theories to help solve the problems of government. If you like where this is going, send me your thoughts. I'll gladly post more information to keep the discussion going.

Excerpted from A Complex Adaptive Solution to the Polarization of America

Understanding the nature of complexity

Using a more open, complex, and yes "nuanced" way of approaching government, one can look to other areas for answers to the problems vexing government. We should turn our attention to what we know about chaos and complexity theories.

In a boxed-in linear world, no one thinks to look beyond theories of government to answer questions about government. It is convenient to look to philosophy, history and essays on democracy and capitalism to find answers to current social problems. Yet, there are answers to organizational and systemic problems that exist all around us – if we would only take a closer look.

One example of how to take advantage of complexity lies in the very structure of an organization. A study by Basadur and Head and published in The Journal of Creative Behavior in 2001, revealed that heterogeneous groups (or different types of thinkers in the same group) produce the most creative results. Specifically, the experiment examined different configurations of groups, dividing MBA students into 49 teams of four members each. In the study, four types of thinking were represented. Some teams had all of one type of thinker. Other teams had four of each, etc. After assessing the groups' behavior, the study concluded that the group of mixed thinkers may not have enjoyed working together as much, but they did perform better. Maybe friction does make the pearl.

Taking this a step further, imaginary lines have existed over the centuries, making sure to keep scientists, artists, writers, mathematicians, physicists, educators, etc. in separate departments. Like spokes emanating from a hub, they go in their separate directions. As they go down the spoke, their ideas, rather than coming together, spread further apart. So, what if we were to bring people back to the "hub"” at least momentarily in order to solve some serious problems. To do this, we ought to at least have a better understanding of chaos and complexity theories.

In a nutshell, chaos theory tells us that everything in the universe has an emerging nature, from the evolution of organisms, to volcanic eruptions, to weather patterns, to the growth of civilizations. Secondly, the greatest creativity, evolvability and progress appear to take place at the “edge of chaos.” In chaos theory, random forces can converge to form a higher order. Research in the field has gone from the study of planets to the study of the weather to micro-organisms, to the growth of companies to organizational and group behavior. What one learns from a study of complexity is that random forces converge to form a higher order behavior. Keep your eye on the larger picture as we delve into the details.

Steven Johnson, in a book called Emergence: the Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities and Software (2001) wrote about studies of slime mold in the 1960’s by Mitch Resnick. The studies revealed that micro-organisms displayed collective intelligence. Instead of one large organism moving across a floor in search of food, it was revealed that the "slime" was actually hundreds of single celled organisms coming together for a larger purpose.

In fact, evidence of self-organization is everywhere. Prigogine and Stengers in their much-cited compendium Order out of Chaos (1984) said that the biosphere as a whole and all its components existed in a state far from equilibrium. Based on this, they said life, as part of the natural order, was the "supreme expression" of a self-organizing process. Simplified, this means that the air, land and sea are all part of a complex system that tends towards equilibrium. It does so because it is adaptive. If it doesn’t, – if it were rigid – it would cease to exist, and we would cease to exist.

According to Sylvia Nasar, author of A Beautiful Mind, the mathematician John Nash proved on page six of his thesis that every non-cooperative game with any number of players had at least one equilibrium point. The trouble is that if you narrow the spectrum to the middle of one political party, you lose hundreds if not thousands of options (This idea comes from James Fallows, writing for Atlantic Monthly). Collective action and intelligence only exist so far as there's a collective (Read more about the "radical middle").

With the earth’s population at over six billion and communication existing at all levels unlike any time before, the possibility for thoughtful, productive interaction could inspire great, imaginative progress. One does not need to live in a coastal city to experience contact with other peoples and ideas any longer. The Internet, e-mail, text messaging and other wireless communications have made possible a world of interaction from any place at any time of the day or night.

Perhaps, without any direct awareness of these principals, the previous administration may have known about this. Richard Florida wrote that "Clinton, especially in the early years of his administration, had the loose, unstructured management style of an academic department or a dot-com, manic work hours, meetings that went on forever, lots of diffuse power centers, young people running around in casual clothing, and a constant re-appraising of plans and strategies." Leaving out the part about the casual clothing, (though it may have contributed to the tone) it is arguable that this type of interaction and activity led to much of the progress in the 1990's.

The idea is not to necessarily seek out chaos and hope for the best. Rather, organizations ought to look for what Stuart Kauffman described as the "edge of chaos.”

Kauffman, a researcher at the Santa Fe Institute has done extensive research on complexity and self-organization. One of the many experiments he conducted consisted of a Boolean network of light bulbs on a lattice like grid. The bulbs were connected and tested using various mathematically driven combinations. Many of the results have a significant relationship to life in organizations: (a) sparsely connected networks showed internal order; (b) densely connected networks go into chaos; (c) networks with a single connection tend towards a frozen, dull kind of behavior, and finally; (d) a chaotic system is very sensitive to small changes.

Going back to what was said during the 9/11 Commission Hearings regarding the need for systemic changes, is it possible that we experienced the kind of “frozen" and “dull" behavior that Kauffman discovered in his experiments? Kauffmann, himself, said that the “edge of chaos" may even provide a deep new understanding of the logic of democracy. This area, he discovered, was best able to coordinate complex activities, best able to evolve. The best compromises appeared at the phase transition between order and chaos.


Prigogine and Stengers, in 1984, concluded that living systems were open systems in constant interaction with their environment. In other words, nothing operated in isolation or without interaction. They discovered that these systems were self-organizing, operating according to their own principles, patterns and structures. According to Irene E. Karpiak, writing in 2000 in the Journal Studies in Continuing Education, the behavior of living systems is determined by responsiveness, creativity and dialogue with its environment. To grow and change, therefore, a living system has to communicate and respond in a continuous feedback loop. "A" gives information to "B." "B" performs a certain way and "A" takes note of this. After "A" sees the behavior, he gives more acutely tuned information to “B" and so forth. The organism progresses forward, always learning and evolving as it goes.

Stephen Johnson wrote about ideas dying in "rural isolation" with no activity, and Karpiak wrote that open systems dialogue with the environment, and therefore, grow and change. From micro-organisms, to cities, to the Internet to video games, emergence and complexity lead to higher order thinking, growth and productivity. Conversely, in a rigid hierarchy, one voice or idea, or a memo on someone's desk alerting them to potential terrorist attacks, can easily go unnoticed.

The universe is governed by certain rules. Violate these, and one might end up dead. Ask the pilot about the Bernoulli Principle, the engineer about stress, and the NASA astronaut about gravitational pull or centrifugal force. Scientists, teachers, astronauts, chemists, physicists, engineers have all made great effort over the thousands of years that we've been on the planet to learn and understand how nature behaves. This information can be helpful in places where it was not intended to be used... if we care enough and we are willing to be more creative in our thinking.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Kind of Blue: An Excercise in Interdisciplinary Studies


Going through some old papers from graduate school, I came upon a short essay that I wrote about Miles Davis and the album Kind of Blue. It seems even clearer to me now that Jazz is the perfect example of how an interdisciplinary education works. There are many ideas and lines of information coming together under a broad theme with minimal control from the top. Everyone “knows” what to play and where to come in. The popularity of this album lends support to the idea that “emergent” systems have it right and that top down control and rigid hierarchies would produce lifeless, or mechanized-sounding music.

Here is an excerpt from that paper (edited for this blog):

I think this also proves something else of educational value. Right combinations produce right things. Just like the concept of emergence, if software, a city, circuit board, building or whatever is put together the right way, it will yield great things.

In the case of Kind of Blue, one has the perfect combination of instruments and musicians. Davis came together with Julian "Cannonball" Adderly, John Coltrane, Wynton Kelly, Bill Evans, Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb. Here's how you know they were the right musicians; they had no rehearsal and only one take. Maybe this setting, being around equally talented musicians inspired each to do well. One great artist inspiring others - creating synergy.

I'm finishing up listening to the album as I write this, and, already I want to replay it. They say (whoever they are) that anyone can make something complicated - the real genius knows how to make it simple. Kind of Blue is just that - perfectly simple. Great musicians converged at Columbia Records on 30th street in New York City on March 2nd and April 22nd, 1959 and created something truly great.

Friday, February 24, 2006

The inspiring story of Jason McElwain


I turned on the TV today and caught only a glimpse of an inspiring story about a high school student with autism. I've talked a bit on this blog about certain creative powers that are inherent in mental illness, but this event should open up discussion on what is possible with autism. Jason McElwain scored 20 points in the last four minutes of a basketball game to help his team win. Think of the state of focus and concentration one has to be in to make this happen. You can see a video of this event here.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Promoting Innovations in many fields...


Right Brain World is quickly becoming a website which promotes innovation across disciplines. Creative thinkers are always looking for combinations of new things – which is why it is a disservice to put up lines or barriers to new solutions and ideas. An idea in engineering could answer a question that an educator or entrepreneur has, and a mathematician could provide insight to a psychologist or web designer.

By rewarding creativity and innovation across the board, wherever it occurs, the possibilities for new combinations and solutions increases greatly. The hope is that this site will become a launching pad and source of inspiration for all kinds of new and innovative thinking.

If you’d like to have your idea considered for publication, please send a sample of your work to lchazen@gmail.com

The picture above is of Buckminster Fuller and was designed by the people at the link above (click on the title).

"We are on a spaceship; a beautiful one. It took billions of years to develop. We're not going to get another. Now, how do we make this spaceship work?"

  • R. Buckminster Fuller
  • Monday, January 02, 2006

    Are students ready for "the conceptual age?"

    Standardized tests exist in every sector of the educational landscape. From the SAT to the GRE, LSAT and more, there is considerable interest in numbers. It makes it easy to quantify learning. But, if you give someone two separate ideas and ask them to combine them into one usable idea, or ask them to explain a phenomenon or interpret data, some of these great test takers might fall short. Why? Because the emphasis in education is on standardizing knowledge, not on creativity or abstract thinking. Even in 2005, we still expect students, for the most part, to think in a linear fashion. Yet, our world is changing... quickly. Daniel Pink, in A Whole New Mind, reports that we are entering a "conceptual age," when we will need people to think in new ways. Employers, according to Pink, will need students to see a larger picture, one where they can see trends, merge ideas and create new strategies. Richard Florida reports that there are nearly 40 million people now in the U.S. who are part of a "creative class." This group of teachers, musicians, artists, scientists and others makes up approximately 30 percent of the workforce. Also consider the observations of Tom Friedman in The World is Flat,that places like Bangalore and Beijing are becoming rival economic centers to US cities, and we have to ask ourselves, as educators, if we should make changes or additions to the curriculum.

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